LGBTQ+ Donors

January 2023 Update:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a draft guidance recommending a change from deferrals based on gender and sexual orientation to using gender-inclusive, individual risk-based questions to reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted infection. These changes are draft recommondations and not yet final.

Next steps:
The FDA’s recommendations will be open for public comment for 60 days, closing March 31, 2023.

The agency will then review and consider all comments before finalizing this guidance, which would then be implemented by the nation’s blood collection establishments through an updated donor history questionnaire (roughly 6-9 months).

During this review period, Hoxworth Blood Center will still abide by current FDA guidelines outlined below.

FDA Guidance Regarding the Men Who Have Sex With Men (MSM) Deferral

  • What is the MSM Deferral, and why does Hoxworth enforce this guideline?
    • Hoxworth Blood Center is regulated and audited by numerous organizations and governing bodies to ensure that the blood we collect and distribute is safe. One of those organizations is the FDA, which regulates and licenses all blood centers in the United States. 
    • The FDA guidance “Revised Recommendations for Reducing the Risk of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Transmission by Blood and Blood Products” released in April 2020 states that men who had sex with men (MSM) will be deferred for three (3) months from the date of last sexual encounter. 
    • At the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s, the FDA had enacted a lifetime deferral on men who had sex with men (MSM), which remained in place until 2015, when the deferral period was changed to one year. 
  • I am a man who has had sex with another man in the past three months. Do I have to be celibate for three months before donating blood?
    • Yes. The FDA revised guidance states, “Defer for 3 months from the most recent sexual contact, a man who has had sex with another man during the past 3 months."
  • I am a man who is in a monogamous MSM relationship. Am I allowed to donate if I have had sex with a man in the last three months?
    • No. The FDA revised guidance states, “Defer for 3 months from the most recent sexual contact, a man who has had sex with another man during the past 3 months."
    • All U.S. blood collection organizations must follow this federal requirement.
  • I am a man who has not had sex with another man in the last three months. Can I donate blood?
    • Men who have not had sex with another man in the last three months are not deferred by the MSM guidance and may be eligible to donate blood, provided they meet all other eligibility requirements.
  • Isn’t all blood tested before going to a patient?
    • Hoxworth does test every unit of blood donated for a variety of infectious diseases, including (but not limited to) HIV, hepatitis, Chagas Disease, and syphilis. While testing has greatly improved in recent years, it is not 100 percent effective at detecting infectious diseases in donors with very early infection. 
  • As the only steward of the Tri-State blood supply, the highest priority of Hoxworth Blood Center has always been the safety of our volunteer blood donors and the patients in need of lifesaving blood products
  • At Hoxworth Blood Center, we firmly believe that all potential blood donors should be treated with respect and fairness. Our goal is for all eligible donors to have a successful blood donation. Our employees and volunteers are trained to be sensitive to the needs of all potential blood donors, and this is especially true if an individual is deferred for any reason.
  • Hoxworth is committed to adhering to the policies, procedures, regulations and guidelines of the Code of Federal Regulations, the AABB (formerly the American Association of Blood Banks), the States of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, the University of Cincinnati, and other agencies as required.
  • We acknowledge the unfortunate reality that not all members of the community are welcome to donate blood at this time, due to regulations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Currently, men who have sex with men are deferred from donating unless they have been abstinent for at least three months. 
  • Hoxworth Blood Center continues to advocate for updated eligibility guidelines based on new research findings, to ensure that we can maintain a safe and stable blood supply from a large pool of volunteer blood donors.

FAQ Regarding Transgender & Nonbinary Donors

  • I am a transgender individual. Am I allowed to donate?
    • There is no deferral associated with being transgender, and your eligibility will be based upon the criteria associated with your self-identified, self-reported gender. The latest FDA revised guidance states, “In the context of the donor history questionnaire, FDA recommends that male or female gender be taken to be self-identified and self-reported.”
    • Beginning in August of 2020, Hoxworth Blood Center changed its eligibility guidelines in accordance with FDA guidelines, allowing blood donors to register and answer questions with the gender in which they identify. 
    • While there is no deferral associated with being transgender, you may still be deferred. For instance, if you identify as male and have had sex with men in the last three months, you will be deferred from donating per the MSM guidelines outlined above. 
    • You must meet all other eligibility guidelines to donate blood. 
  • I do not identify as male or female. Will this impact my ability to donate?
    • While being non-binary is not cause for a deferral, it is important to note that our donor forms only allow donors to select male or female identities. 
    • In August of 2020, in accordance with FDA guidelines, Hoxworth updated its donor forms to allow blood donors to register and answer questions as the gender with which they identify. We believe this is a huge step in the right direction, but we also recognize that many individuals do not identify with male/female genders. 
    • At this point, the FDA has not provided guidance related to donors who cannot self-identify as either male of female; as an organization that is regulated by the FDA, Hoxworth Blood Center cannot provide a process without FDA guidance to accept donors who cannot self-identify. We encourage non-binary individuals to self-identify for purposes of blood donation, if they are comfortable doing so.
    • Hoxworth Blood Center has made efforts in recent years to make the blood donation experience more inclusive, but we recognize that only having male and female options, without an “other” category, may still be considered an exclusionary practice.
    • Hoxworth will continue to advocate for changes to eligibility guidelines that allow healthy individuals to save lives through blood donation, regardless of their gender identity. 
  • I am a Hoxworth donor and need to update my reported gender in my donor record. What do I need to do?
    •  If you need to change your reported gender in your donor record, please contact Denise Bond in Clinical Services - Quality Assurance at denise.bond@uc.edu or (513) 558-1917. 

Hoxworth Advocacy

Hoxworth supports updating eligibility guidelines based on new research, and encourages the implementation of policies that both ensure the safety of the blood supply and allow ALL healthy individuals to save lives through blood donation.

To that end, we continue to make our stance on current discriminatory deferrals clear, and have held several inclusive blood drives:

Additionally, we have postcards available at our donor centers advocating for updated eligibility guidelines from the FDA.  Donors are invited to sign a card and add their own message. Hoxworth will periodically send these cards to the FDA for consideration. 

Image of rainbow watercolor postcard with blood drop and text reading "we all bleed the same"

Please know that it is not the intent of Hoxworth to discriminate against any individual or group of people. Ultimately, our goal is to maintain a safe and stable blood supply for local patients while adhering to federal and state guidelines. If you have questions or concerns about any of this information, you can contact Hoxworth Donor Services staff at 513-558-1304 to speak with a staff member. 

Helpful Resources